Every time a customer enters a business, he or she is trusting that the shop owner has taken the appropriate steps to ensure that the shopping environment is safe. Customers should not have to worry about being injured when patronizing a business, and when they are it is likely that the business owner could have taken some action that would have prevented the accident. In these situations, it is important for the injured person to know his or her rights so that they are not left responsible for thousands of dollars in medical bills for someone else’s mistake.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is essentially the duty that a property owner owes to individuals on their property. This duty requires that visitors are kept reasonably safe by the landowners. This is especially true with public spaces, such as grocery stores or “box stores” like Walmart or Target, as they welcome the public into their privately owned space. Common premises liability accidents include the typical “slip and fall” accidents where a customer is injured because they fell somewhere on the store owner’s property.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
In order to recover damages, both compensatory and punitive in some cases, an injured customer must prove one of three elements: (1) that the landowner knew or should have known of the hazardous situation, (2) that the danger is not easily recognizable, or that (3) the landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect individuals who were lawfully on the property. In cases not involving a public space like a grocery store, it would be the burden of the injured person to also prove that they were not a trespasser on the property; but that is generally not an issue with a public space.
It should be noted that in Illinois, a shop owner does not have a duty to warn its customers of an open and obvious hazard, unless one of two exceptions is met. If a customer is distracted and the shop owner has reason to suspect that the customer does not see the hazard, the shop owner may still be liable for injury. Second, if a hazard is such that the advantages of encountering it outweigh the danger, the deliberate encounter exception may make the shop owner liable as well.
If an injured customer can show that he or she was injured by falling due to a hazard on a shop owner’s property, and has proof of the extent of the injury, whether the shop owner was at fault will likely be a determining factor in the amount that the customer can recover.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s dereliction of duty, call the professionals at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. It is important to know your rights under Illinois law before discussing your situation with the shop owner or their insurance company. We can help you learn more about your options for recovery to ensure that you can receive the care you need to heal.